If T.S. Eliott could write a suite of poems about cats, and if Andrew Lloyd Webber could compose a successful musical based on Elliott’s poems, there is no reason that Turkish director, Ceyda Torun, should not make an 80 minute film about cats in Istanbul.
Whether the film is a success will depend on your love of cats. Any devotees of cats will have no difficulty with the film and think it is probably too short! On the other hand, if you are a dog person or if cats don’t particularly attract or interest at all, then it may well be hard going. It does remind us that dogs (a few of them actually do appear here) are able to show, even express in their face and demeanour, a great deal of devotion more than cats are able to. Cats can look at you but there seems to be something of a glacial stare at times and/or lack of personal interest.
So, there are plenty of picture postcard views of the city of Istanbul, many of them by drone above the buildings, always interesting and attractive, especially for those who have visited.
And there are quite a lot of humans in the film, many of them absolutely devoted to cats, some of them dotty about them, both males and females expressing their love for cats, patting them, feeding them, doting on them. Some have personal names. Actually, those in the audience who appreciate cats might enjoy doing a bit of cat-spotting, able to identify all the breeds and variations.
The first part of the film focuses on female cats and their kittens, the devotion of the mothers scrounging around the city picking up food for the kitties, or else looking pleadingly and seemingly helplessly for scraps to take home. So, we follow quite a number of cats around, an exceeding number, beyond expectation, to be found in Istanbul!
The director obviously has a photographic eye and, right throughout the 80 minutes, there are numerous, numerous, shots of cats, poses, cats framed with the scenery, close-ups, cats always, seeming plaintiff looks, and touch of the catfight when aggressive males get into conflict.
The male cats are left to the second part of the film, less cuddly, of course, than their female counterparts with their maternal behaviour with their kittens.
Obviously, a more intense and intensive review of the film could be done by a cat lover who could alert us to all the nuances, all the traits, all the furry lovableness – but for others, they might feel they have had a catful!
Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.
The film is available through a YouTube Red subscription on the vlogbrothers channel.
Review by the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting